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Legislation published to place 'duty' on Child and Family Agency to provide aftercare

It follows a HSE report late last year that highlighted a number of incidents where young adults died after leaving statutory care.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE CHILD AND Family Agency would have a  ’statutory duty’ to provide aftercare if legislation published today comes into law.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has revealed the General Scheme and Heads of the Aftercare Bill 2014.

Aftercare is defined as supports offered when a young adult leaves statutory care. As of December 2013, 1,093 were in receipt of such services.

Under the current Child Care Act 1991, the Child and Family Agency only has a duty of care up until the age of 18.

Today’s legislation would require an aftercare plan to be put in place.

“It is crucial that an aftercare plan is prepared to identify the supports that young people need leaving care as they transition to adulthood,” the Minister said.

A consistent implementation of aftercare planning should assist in improving the effectiveness of existing services for these young people leaving care.

A HSE report last year highlighted incidents where some of those who had been in care died after making the transition to independent living.

One man began to abuse alcohol and drugs at 16 and lived in two different foster homes up until the age of 18.

His social worker tried to get him to engage with different services and he was offered drug treatment but declined He was offered aftercare by the HSE when he turned 18 and he made contact with a counselling service prior to taking his own life in 2010.

The review team said his suicide appears to be “pre-meditated” as he called a number of family members that morning and told one of them it was “time to go to sleep for good”.

Misadventure

Another man died by misadventure in the year after leaving care.

His girlfriend had recently given birth to a baby and he had spend time in various different types of accommodation.

Staff noticed a rise in his poly drug use including heroin, crack, alcohol and cocaine prior to this death.

Helplines:

  • Samaritans 1850 60 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634

  • Console 1800 201 890

  • Aware 1890 303 302

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

Read: Reviews detail tragic deaths of ‘bubbly’, ‘charming’ children >

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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